"Okay, um…here Maria,” Billie hands me the flower and dumps the candy in my lap. “I got you an orchid cause those are your favorite. Everybody I've ever known that's been in a hospital had flowers by ‘em. Also I got you pretty much every kind of candy the gas station had," he says flashing me a half – smile, his adorable messed up teeth showing a little.
I laugh, "Aww, thanks Billie," I answer, unwrapping a Snickers. The gas station must have had a lot of those ‘cause I’ve got like four.
I sit there and look at my orchid while the guys talk.
My brother, his girlfriend, Heather, and my friend Salem, the only girl I actually get along with, come in.
"Jesus Christ!" I exclaim as they all file in with more flowers.
Salem has managed to find black roses which are of course the symbol of death but I like them because their different. Instead of letting these flowers go over with Billie’s I ask for the roses to be set on the window seal.
"Holy shit, how many roses do I have? Twelve plus twelve is twenty – four and twenty – four plus six is how many...? Billie!" I yell pointing to him.
Billie counts on his fingers a few times before answering.
"Thirty,” he smiles, proud that he figured out a simple math problem in under five minutes; oh, the woes of a high school drop out.
"Thanks guys," I say, looking around at those who showed up.
I unload my lap onto the side table; as I lift my arm up the bandage that I’ve been picking at falls off my arm revealing the black/purple mark under it. The bruises really are in the shape of hands like Tré told me; hands much bigger than my own.
Billie’s voice pulls me from my trance, "Are you okay over there?"
"Yeah," I reply, my voice not sounding like it belongs to me.
The next few days are spent in the hospital.
I finally decided on taking the painkillers. This is a mistake cause now the doctors want me to take them ever eight hours; blah, they don’t even really help. Also, now that all the candy Billie bought me, eaten mainly by Billie, Mike and Tré, is all gone I’m forced to eat the shitty hospital food.
Most nights I have terrible dreams about rape and people cutting me open and those big black hands that cover my arms and wake up covered in a cold sweat with tears pouring from my eyes. Billie is being very patient. He’s always there to hold me, and stroke my hair and tell me it’ll be okay; sometimes he sings. He’s not been getting a lot of sleep with my waking up. No matter what though Billie never leaves; something about me needing someone there in the middle of the night; I like having him here.
A week later
Finally, I’m out of the hospital. I’ve switched from hospital painkillers back to marijuana and alcohol which works a million times better. My stitches come out on Wednesday and then I’ll be all back to normal. Billie still refuses to leave me for more than a few hours of the day. This is possible because neither of us go to high school.
Today is Monday and while Mike is wasting his time in a class room and Tré is still sleeping I sit on a swing next to Billie, our arms stretched across the small gap, hands together. The wind is blowing off of the ocean and my hair whirls up in my face.
Suddenly I just burst out laughing remembering the video Tré and Billie made to try and cheer me up. Really they just did a bunch of stupid shit and Mike filmed it; like Tré jumping off of Mike’s house while high and Billie walking down the street stopping random cars and asking the people inside to help him break his virginity pledge. I love my friends.
“What’s so funny?” questions Billie, dropping my hand before standing up.
“You,” I laugh before taking off across the street towards the ice cream parlor where my brother works.
Billie catches me, his arms around my waist, holding me close to him, “You shouldn’t run like that.”
Billie shrugs, “Just cause.”
Laughing I enter the ice cream shop. Today is the day Billie and I will try a cherry shake. He’s not got a choice it’s the only flavor we’ve not tasted yet.
I push the pinkish colored drink across the table, leaving it sit in front of him. I’m gonna let him take the first sip. Neither of us can leave the shop until it’s gone. It’s just a tradition. Billie and I come to this ice cream shop every Monday and try something new. This has been going on for like a year and today will be the last day of taste testing.
Billie sighs and places the straw between his lips, sucking up the liquid. He swallows and then gags. It can’t taste that bad.
“That is the most disgusting shit I’ve ever put in my mouth,” Billie says with a smirk, pushing the glass back to me.
“You’re exaggerating –” I take a sip wanting to the spit out the drink– “Okay, that’s really bad.”
“Told you,” answers Billie before taking the glass, giving the shake a disgusted look.
Walking around the table I pinch his nose shut between my thumb and index finger, “Shut your eyes and drink.”
Billie nods, sets the straw on the table, shuts his eyes and tips the glass back. After taking a large mouthful he sets the glass down, his eyes huge. He stands and starts jumping up and down, shaking his head back and forth.
Laughing hysterically I take the glass, drink and then copy his motions. I notice a few kids gathered outside the shop window looking in at us. How stupid we must look to them. Ha, silly little kids, you wish you where having this much fun.
Billie and I continue to take mouthfuls of the terrible tasting shake until it’s gone.
I look at Billie, “Worst one yet?”
“Hell yeah,” he answers before taking my hand and dragging me back over to the park.